Today's election results in five Indian states may or may not be noticed by the world media, but they are, in a way, no less significant than the Brexit vote or Trump's victory in November. These election results indicate a shift in politics of a major country, which India is, with its huge population, growing economy, large military and preeminence among the G20. And, while the 2014 election win of the Bharatiya Janata Party (hereafter, BJP) and Narendra Modi becoming India's Prime Minister was more momentous and newsworthy than these elections, they still complete and confirm the process of change that was underway since.
Admittedly, the results of these elections are mixed. Of the five states that went into poll, Indian National Congress (INC) and BJP, with their respective allies, controlled two states each, and another, the biggest one, was ruled by a large, caste-based, regional party, the Samajwadi Party (Socialist Party, or SP). The BJP has now gained two states and lost two, while Congress has got back to power in Punjab, a surprise and a state won back from BJP and its allies, and emerged as the largest party in two other states but slightly short of majority. It has lost badly in Uttarakhand, which it ruled for many years and where it was crippled by defection. However, all of these almost do not matter as Congress has lost, and lost badly, to BJP in Uttar Pradesh (UP), where it was a minnow and was never going to win, because this is India's most populous state, with lots of seats in the two chambers of Indian parliament. And, this is what matters.
In a way, Congress should even be celebrating, because, after today, they may have got some footing as India's main opposition party. In a sad narrative of decline, even the number two position was in question, with the rise of various local parties. That Congress could win the elections in Punjab, a northern state where most people are Sikhs, in Goa, a Southern state where most people are Christians, and in Manipur, in the far corner of North-eastern India with a large tribal population, gives it a preeminence over the other local parties with a narrow agenda. But, sadly for Congress, this is not the story anyone would notice: It is the UP, a state where it was always going to lose, would dominate the conversation.
And, rightly so. UP, being the most populous, sends most parliamentarians, and BJP win there would mean an eventual shift of balance in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, where BJP still does not have a majority. This would, eventually, give Mr Modi an unprecedented advantage: No Prime Minister, since the end of Congress Hegemony in Indian politics in 1989, enjoyed majorities in both houses of Parliament. And, these majorities would be big enough even to bring in Constitutional change. In short, the UP victory finally seals a Hinduvta Hegemony in India.
There are some Facebook lamentations about the end of Liberal India. I am not sure how far the INC can be called Liberal, and how far, given their chronic inability to look beyond the predominance of one family, they should be seen even as a normal political party. Whatever it seemed from outside, the UP election was fought along the caste and religious lines. Congress was never going to win: Their only contribution in the result was to enter in an ill-advised alliance that allowed a consolidation of upper caste Hindu vote, making the defeat looks grimmer. Liberalism was not on the ballot, and therefore, its death should not be mourned.
In fact, BJP under Mr Modi is classic neo-Liberal, and should be seen as that. Socially conservative and business friendly, it is a party that represents the interests of big business in India. It has found, in Mr Modi, a figure to rally around, and it has triumphed, with a clear message aimed at Indian middle classes: Development! Despite the mishmash of results, the biggest story is the rise of 'Hindu vote': This was the tactic Mr Modi successfully followed in 2014, and now he has done it again.
Indeed, BJP has not invented the Caste and Religious voting block idea - that distinction belongs to Congress and regional parties like SP - but it has become its most successful practitioner, particularly by turning the (high) caste Hindus into a voting block. The Caste Hindus are numerous - though they are not the majority of the population - and they are disproportionately represented in education, employment, policy making and professions in India. They have, like professional classes, always had divided loyalties, whereas the other castes, and religious minorities, often voted en bloc. Mr Modi's two-tone politics - a public message of development supplemented by religious zealotry of his followers, which he rarely censors - successfully outflanked the parties dependent on caste or minority voting blocks, by uniting the Educated Hindus interested in 'development at any cost' with their less tolerant coreligionists, interested in a different agenda. The Congress, still out of favour with educated Indians for the corruption and incompetence of their administration (2004 - 2014), is completely out of sorts in a country of young strivers as they stick to dynastic privileges, and it has no answers to this Hinduvta Hegemony.
I am indeed no admirer of Mr Modi, but I recognise that public memory is fickle and moral objections are quaint. While I feared for the Indian Republic when Mr Modi got elected in 2014, such fears do not resonate with the voting public, who have more urgent, and more material, concerns. Besides, the consistent lack of political sense in Congress, and their slavish devotion to the family, makes them a lost cause, at least at the present moment. In a world where Mr Trump is the President of United States, and Marine Le Pen gets a serious consideration, Mr Modi is no anomaly, and indeed, a politician of merit in comparison. However, the current political setting in India should make people like me reconsider their position in one important way: Our key assumption that India is secular socialist democratic republic facing a challenge from Hindu nationalism is outdated, and it is time to think of Indian politics as one of hegemonic Hindu democracy, and reframe political ideas and conversations around the same.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.